Sooty ShearwaterPuffinus griseus (Gmelin)
Status Common summer visitant. Sooty Shearwaters are regular in offshore waters from late May to September, peak numbers being reached in August. An unusually early sighting was of three birds on Georges Bank on 12 April 1983; the latest were three off Sable Island on 26 November 1969. A bird observed a few hundred metres off Evangeline Beach, Kings County on 9 September 1956 was doubly unusual because the species is seen rarely in the upper Bay of Fundy and rarely so close to shore.
Description Length: 41 - 51 cm. All plumages: Sooty brown above and below, darkest on upper wings and tail; bill black and more slender than that of the Greater Shearwater; underwing linings are grayish white.
Range Breeds in New Zealand and adjacent islands, in the Falklands and on islands near Cape Horn. Outside the breeding season, it is widely distributed north to Labrador, southern Iceland, the Faeroes and western Norway in the Atlantic and also occurs widely in the Pacific.
Remarks These birds outnumber Greater Shearwaters when the two species first arrive here in May, but the ratio is soon reversed as the Sooty Shearwaters quickly pass on to the eastern Atlantic. Only a small portion of this species' total population migrates to the North Atlantic; the majority winters in the North Pacific or off Peru.
It is a graceful flyer. When seen skimming low over the waves, its long, narrow wings, colour and shape remind one of an oversized Chimney Swift, albeit with a decidedly different wing motion.
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Credits and copyright information. Last updated February 20, 1998
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